‘Right To Equitable And Professional Auto Industry Repair Act’ Introduced To US Congress

The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), Auto Care Association, CAR (Consumer Access to Repair) Coalition, and Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) have applauded the introduction of the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act into Congress.

The associations say the legislation will ensure the preservation of consumer choice, a fair marketplace and the continued safe operation of the country’s 288 million registered passenger and commercial motor vehicles, 70 per cent of which are maintained by independent repair facilities.

The REPAIR Act is said to accomplish this by:

  • Preserving consumer access to high quality and affordable vehicle repair by ensuring vehicle owners and their repairers of choice have access to repair and maintenance tools and data.
  • Ensuring critical repair tools and information systems are available to the independent repair industry.
  • Ensuring cybersecurity by allowing vehicle manufacturers to secure vehicle-generated data and requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop standards for how vehicle-generated data necessary for repair can be accessed securely.
  • Providing transparency for consumers by requiring vehicle owners to be informed that they can choose where and how their vehicle is repaired.
  • Creating a stakeholder advisory committee and providing it with the statutory authority to provide recommendations to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how to address emerging barriers to vehicle repair and maintenance.
  • Establishing a process for consumers and independent repair facilities to file complaints with the FTC regarding alleged violations of the requirements in the bill and a requirement that the FTC act within five months of a claim.

“Today is one of the most memorable and important days in the history of the aftermarket,” said Paul McCarthy, President and CEO of AASA. “From the repair shop to the board room, this effort has been fuelled by the people of the aftermarket, and we couldn’t be prouder of that alignment behind this important legislation,” said McCarthy.

Bill Hanvey, President and CEO of the Auto Care Association, said ensuring consumer choice while retaining a free and competitive market across the vehicle lifecycle is a key part of the legislation. “The tenets of this bill are principles-based, balanced, and address concerns shared across the automotive industry. Passage of this bill will keep consumers at the wheel while preserving an industry that contributes 4.4 million US jobs and two per cent GDP,” Hanvey said.

Justin Rzepka, Executive Director of the CAR Coalition, said a recent YouGov poll showed 93 per cent of respondents want the right to choose where and by whom their vehicle is repaired. “The REPAIR Act will ensure consumers will have more, not fewer choices, when they need a repair shop. They will also have access to the data they need to make sure the repair is done safely,” Rzepka said.

Daniel Ingber, Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs at SEMA, said the REPAIR Act will protect consumer choice when purchasing, servicing, repairing or modifying a motor vehicle. “As technology continues to reshape the automotive landscape for vehicle safety, convenience and comfort, Congress needs to enact this important legislation. The REPAIR Act is essential to protecting access to vehicle systems, tools and information necessary for independent repair and modification services for millions of consumers,” Ingber said.

Bobby Rush, US Representative for the Congressional District of Illinois, who introduced the bill, said Americans should not be forced to take their cars to “more costly and inconvenient dealerships” for repairs when independent repair shops are often cheaper and more accessible. “The status quo for auto repair is not tenable and it is getting worse. If the monopoly on vehicle repair data continues, it would affect nearly 860,000 blue-collar workers and 274,000 service facilities,” Rush said.